Advocate-Messenger, Danville, March 21, 2016
It takes a village ... but will there be a windmill?
by Kendra Peek
Over the hammering of nails into wood and the whirring of a table saw cutting through wood, students at the Boyle County High School gather in groups, measuring, discussing and working to build … a miniature golf course?
A nine hole miniature golf course, to be exact.
And when it’s complete, it will display something about every club and athletic organization in the school.
“It’s a little different, but it’s pretty neat,” said Matthew Whitaker, teacher of the Ag Construction Skills class building the frames for the course.
The golf course was dreamed up by Susan Michaels, a retired teacher in the district who is in charge of project graduation. She contacted Whitaker and art teacher Carrie Snow to take the lead on the building and decorating, respectively.
It’s a slightly different lesson, but one the teachers believe students will enjoy and one that might actually pay off later on.
Whitaker drew the basic designs for the holes and passed the designs out in his Ag Construction Skills class, giving students a chance to put what they’ve learned to the test, and modify the holes as needed.
That’s one of the best parts of the class, said seniors Colton McGlone and Cruz Murphy.
“I enjoy building,” Murphy said, and he really enjoys the class.
McGlone works with his uncle building cabinets on the weekend, something he looks forward to.
Normally, his hobby is limited to the weekends, but, “That’s what I think is best about Ag classes. You get to take hobbies into the classroom and work on them.”
After the Ag students finish the frames on the holes, they will be given over to Snow’s students to decorate.
“We’re just doing the bottom,” said Whitaker. “Ms. Snow’s class is putting on all of the tricks and everything. We’re thinking of the bare bones of it. I think it will be a pretty tricky little golf course.”
“It’s more difficult to frame than it will be to play,” said McGlone.
At the time, his group was attempting to frame a particularly difficult v-shaped hole.
“The first (hole), we flew through it,” he said. This one was taking longer to cut.
“Everybody’s learning as we go,” Whitaker said. “It’s been a lot of, lay it out, figure out how it looks, go from there.”
They are trying to keep each hole to one or two sheets of plywood to keep costs down and make for easier storage. The project was given a $1,000 TEACH grant from the Boyle County Education Foundation Inc.
Snow said she was excited when Michaels approached her about the project.
“I was fascinated by this project. I thought it was great ‘real world.’ There are artists that get paid big bucks to design golf courses,” said Snow. She said a bonus is the chance to do something fun and creative, and it creates a collaboration between the classes.
"One of the holes that has to do with — say FCCLA. Not only are we going to work with Mr. Whitaker’s students, but we’re going to work with the FCCLA students, too, to represent them and their club,” she said.
The art class is just getting started with their design ideas, such as goal posts for the hole representing the football team or tennis nets for the tennis team.
“Students are really rolling with ideas,” Snow said.
One common question from Whitaker’s students is, "When can we play?"
The official unveiling of the new course will be during project graduation, but Whitaker said it may have a test run.
The teachers said students will probably put their names on the finished project.
And the big question: Will there be a windmill?
Laughing, Snow said, “Students want to work in something. They’re like, ‘How many water features are there?’ I was like, ‘Slow down kids, there are no water features.’”
But, Whitaker continued, “There might be …” he said, exchanging glances with McGlone and Murphy before laughing.